Another week and I found myself, yet again, overwhelmed. I can’t handle this! I think. There are many things going on, I can’t possibly do all of them.
I’ve always welcomed opportunities in my life. But what happens when God opens too many doors? Or when you simply feel overwhelmed by the amount of tasks on your never-ending “to do” list? My mom used to say, “you can’t do everything”, to which I would quickly quip, “Well, I can certainly try!” And for most of my life that’s what I’ve done: tried to pursue, well, everything.
Needless to say, that hasn’t gone well or I wouldn’t be struggling to free myself from a suffocating stress sinkhole. As Natalie recently wrote in our last blog, there’s certainly the matter of choosing between two goods; but what about for smaller decisions, like doing my laundry and getting some exercise in vs. grabbing dinner with friends? Staying up late to clean up my disastrous living space or getting that much-needed extra hour of sleep? There’s many things that I feel I need to do, but can’t possibly do all of them! And what happens if I can’t??
It comes down to priorities: first, taking care of you. Listen to your body and learn what things it needs physically, emotionally, and mentally, to be healthy and stress-free. Joy comes from thriving, not just surviving, and sometimes that means taking some down-time and checking out of the social sphere for a while.
As the Capuchins liked to remind me, “we’re human beings, not human doings.” Society likes to measure human worth by amount of success, or output—but don’t get caught up in this superficial scale. Remember that we all possess an inherent worth and dignity because we are alive and made in the image and likeness of God.
Honestly, no one has tried to judge me for backing off when I’ve over-committed myself. It’s me I have to convince. Learning not to judge yourself for your limitations and embracing your humanity presents a form of self-knowledge and wisdom, rather than a sign of weakness. I’ve found it’s easy for pride to get in the way and claim you’re invincible. Don’t take it so far that your body has to break down to break it to you. Now that I’m at that point, I’ve finally learned to start listening, to slow down, and to take some personal time to recover.
I’m not perfect. I can’t do everything. I’m only human. But, as Jesus revealed to St. Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9). Celebrate who God made you, in both your strengths and weaknesses. “For whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”
May the grace of God be your strength.
And, if you're a member of the proud crew like I've been, remember--we all bleed when we fall down...